book review

Spark of Freshness | Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun

Friday, July 21, 2017

Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 4/26/16
Pages: 293
Source: purchased
Add it on Goodreads

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family, by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman, and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.

When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.

Kali is the heir to the sky, several floating continents above earth. When she is crowned, she vows to help her people thrive. When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom, her dreams are far from dashed, promising to find a way to return from the monster-ridden earth. She requests the help of Griffin, a monster hunter, to guide her back home. Weeks pass; Kali begins to uncover the truth of the floating continents and realizes she didn’t fall off the edge, rather she was pushed off it.

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Amanda Sun, author of the Ink series, returns with a fantasy which will pull at your heartstrings. Heir to the Sky is a gorgeous book, filled with wonderful descriptions of fantastical creatures and a romance that will knock your socks off. Sun’s writing is as beautiful as ever, capturing the beauty and cruelty of her world. The world building is superb. However, it does lack an origin story. Readers will still be left with thousands of questions. Starting with, why is earth suddenly infected with monsters?

Something I’ve found in all of Sun’s characters, including even her Ink series, is that the protagonist lacks character. In order to get wonderful descriptions of worlds and gorgeous writing about monster wars, readers will certainly miss the depth in Kali, Heir to the Sky’s main character. For both an heir and protagonist, she is a bit dense. The reader has long ago predicted events that Kali, herself, never saw coming. This either makes the book predictable or Kali dense, or both. 

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The romance is unexpected from the rest of the predictable plot. It is the sweet romance which keeps people reading. Griffin was a magnificent character and I’m wishing for a spin-off book in his perspective. The monster hunter, Griffin, sounds much more interesting and unpredictable than an heir to a kingdom. He has had this whole life on this unsafe earth and readers will want to definitely know more about him. 

Despite being predictable, Heir to the Sky was a great book. It held that spark of freshness, where the protagonist is experiencing a whole new world for the very first time. Similar to the plot of Soundless by Richelle Mead, Heir to the Sky introduces a new dystopia which is just beginning to grow roots. Overall, Amanda Sun’s Heir to the Sky was beautifully-written and wonderfully romantic. Fans of Soundless by Richelle Mead and Sun’s previous series will be sure to fall off the edge of the floating continents to experience the journey with Kali and Griffin.

book tag

The Aesthetically Pleasing Book Tag

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I was thinking about what to post a few weeks ago and decided that I don't do enough tags. And I don't know why not. Tags are so much fun! I saw this tag: the aesthetically pleasing book tag over at Bookmark Lit. It's a tag primarily focusing on how pretty book covers are. Believe me, there are some gorgeous books out there.

I may have gotten a little carried away with this tag because, of course, I couldn't pick just one. There are simply so many beautiful covers that it was even difficult to only pick three.

Best Color Combo on a Book Cover

Looking at some of my favorite color combinations side by side, it's still hard to say what I like most about each of them. You rarely see orange on covers so the orange ombre on Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh is so elegant. Also, I love bold choices-- color combinations that you don't think would work but do. This happens with The Ring and the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz where you wouldn't think the wall would match with the model's hat but I think it totally does. And so many colors are splattered on Big Magic By Elizabeth Gilbert in such an intentional and pretty way.

Best Typography/Font on the Cover

I choose all the books. Seriously, it was hard to narrow down to just three for this. A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston has one of the most beautiful typography I've ever seen. If you look closely, the wisps of magic on the cover also say words too. I could stare at that cover all day. Also, I love pretty scripts like on the Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins cover. And I love how they made a dragon from the "s" on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling.

Best Simple Cover

Do these covers count as simple? I adore when publishers capture the essence of the book without crowding the cover. In Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, there are three sisters which each of the crowns represent perfectly. In Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch, there is a lot of gelato eating (who knew? πŸ˜›). And, well, I just like the clouds on The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

Best Endpages

My favorite endpages have got to be the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard (middle). They are so fancy and every time I look at them, I notice something different. However, I love the vintage wallpaper endpages in the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs (left). I wish that the Lunar Chronicles were consistent in their endpages but, unfortunately, we only got the gorgeous backdrop of Lunar on Fairest (upper right). Honorable mention goes to Winter by Marissa Meyer (bottom right) which features a bunch of fanart from the series.

Best Map

The map for Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (upper left) is so fun and colorful. A 3-D map of school grounds is not something readers see often so I thought it was definitely worthy of being a 'best map.' The map in A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (lower left), by itself, is pretty but so are all the maps. What is really awesome about this map is that as the series continues with A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin, the maps in the books change according to what you and the protagonist know about the lands. Cool! I just happened upon These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (right) and noticed its pretty map of New York City. I like how the map is faded in some parts or the writing is a bit smudged. 

Best Naked Hardcover

Once again, if the cover connects to the story in some way, it makes me so happy. In the case of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (left), the tree is described to be on their family crest. Heartless by Marissa Meyer (middle) is a retelling of the Queen of Hearts so the hardcover definitely ties into that. Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers (right) is a fantastic novel. Though, it's super hard to see, there are words on the naked hardcover in gorgeous font. Very wonderful!

Best Back Cover

Not only do great books have a story inside them but the best ones tell stories even before you read them, on the cover. With Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson (left), it pushes you to ask questions like "Why would they leave an open pizza box laying on the ground?" You know someone is going to get off the table and step right in the pizza. Or the back cover of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (middle) which makes you want to know more about when and why did the plane crash. Oh, and To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (right) has the cutest cover that always makes me a little bit room-jealous.

Best Chapter Headers

I cheated with this one since there aren't many chapter headers in the anthology, Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (left). However, the short story headers are super cute! As is both Chris Colfer's The Wishing Spell (right) and the entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (middle).

Best Illustrations 

Finding illustrations in books that are not considered graphic novels or picture books are always something of a treat. My favorite illustrations are those in Ink by Amanda Sun (left) and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (middle). Most recently, I finished Beauty and the Beast (right) and the illustrations in that edition was so gorgeous!

Best Spine

I love when you take the book jacket off and underneath is a beautiful, shiny spine. Reawakened by Colleen Houck and Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter have the most pretty spines. Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin is a gorgeous spine too and you don't even have to take off the jacket.

Favorite Cover on Your Shelves

All of the books on my shelves are my favorite. I can't choose; they're all so pretty! I love the cover of Hourglass by Myra McEntire; the model is just chilling on the wall as if gravity doesn't matter. I never know what to look at with All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, there's so much going on. And Jackaby by William Ritter; I'm in love with the font but also how the red and blue definitely work together. So pretty.

This is such a fun tag! I tag you, if you want to do this tag. What is your favorite book cover? 

book review

Real-Life Similarities in a Work of Fiction | Run by Kody Keplinger

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Run by Kody Keplinger

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 6/28/16
Pages: 288
Source: purchased
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Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter—protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and—worst of all—confronting some ugly secrets.

The Dickinsons are always the talk of the town. And not in a good way. They have been called thieves, addicts, and even pirates—the town loves to talk. Agnes has always believed what they said about the Dickinsons, never giving it another thought. Until she meets Bo Dickinson, a fellow classmate. Bo is not like what they say; she is adventurous, polite and, above all, accepts Agnes for who she is. Agnes has lived a sheltered life under the roof of her overbearing parents. When Bo calls Agnes in the middle of the night to leave town forever, there is no hesitation. Run by Kody Keplinger is not about a road trip with two good friends, it is a story about a complex relationship which blossoms into several life lessons.

The author of The DUFF and Lying Out Loud is back but not in the way you’d expect. Kody Keplinger, in an attempt to remove herself from The DUFF world (which has been present in all her novels thus far), sets her story a little closer to home. There are several elements of Run which will have readers guessing if the novel is a loose representation of Kody Keplinger’s younger years. Keplinger, herself, stated that the town in which Run depicts is very similar to the town she grew up in. Also, Agnes is legally blind—just like the author—which leaves readers wondering what other real-life similarities they can find within the work of fiction. 

This novel was supposed to be about this unbreakable bond between two best friends. Instead, I found the relationship between Bo and Agnes lacking in so many areas. The span of 304 pages does not give the reader enough time to see beyond the negative in their relationship. Keplinger creates their friendship out of thin air.  As much as it strengthens by the end of the novel, all I could see was the toxicity of the two characters together.  

The story itself was ridden with clichΓ©s. The overbearing parents, the evil foster homes and the gossiping church-goers will be sure to give any reader a headache. 

Keplinger’s writing was superb. Run can be seen as a different side of what Keplinger can accomplish. Readers have experienced the comedy and romance of her other novels but Run delves much darker.

Despite the fantastic writing, the slow plot which only flows through character development does not make for an awesome read. I recommend skipping this one and giving The DUFF another reread. 

book discussion

How to Buy Books You'll Love

Friday, July 14, 2017

Books are expensive! And I’m sure we’ve all been there: we buy a book because it has an amazing cover and/or it sounds fantastic but after reading, we find it isn’t what we thought. We give it a negative review and years later, we donate it to the library. πŸ˜” Yes, books take all my money! But wouldn’t it be amazing if all the books we purchase are 5 star reads?

I’m always asked by my bookish friends and other bloggers, “Jeanna, how do you pick out books to buy?” And I’ve been asked this so many times that I decided to list a small how-to guide: How to Buy Books You'll Love.

Know Yourself

The most important is to know what you like. I don’t read synopses anymore. I much prefer to go into a book blind and know absolutely nothing except what the cover looks like. When it comes to choosing books to buy, I need to rely on how much I know about my own reading taste.

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I am not a fan a sci-fi so those books are out. Dystopian is very hit or miss with me so I don’t usually try those unless it’s super hyped. Fantasy is a go, especially if there is a gorgeous map in the front! And all the other genres are free for the choosing.

Judge by the Cover

Yes, don’t deny that at least once in your lifetime, you have judged a book by its cover and purchased it just by that. I’m telling you that is okay. Pretty books will always have a spot on your bookshelf, right?

Besides knowing yourself, you’ll want to take a look at the book covers you own. What draws you to those books?

Recommended by an Autobuy Author

You are not going to like every book cover of all the books you purchase. So, sometimes, we need to take the purchasing decision out of our hands. Was it recommended by an author you love?

I know I always do a double take if I see a book that has praise from Sarah J. Maas, Renee Ahdieh, Stephanie Perkins or Barry Lyga.

Recommended by a Blogger and/or Friend

Not only do I read the praise the book has from other authors. I, also, listen to my fellow bloggers and friends if they tell me an amazing book I must read.

Follow bloggers who read and like the same books as you do. When I read reviews, if I haven't read the book being reviewed, I will primarily read the conclusion of the review and their rating. (I don't want to be spoiled!) If they highly recommend reading it, the book will go into a list that I will then take to the bookstore with me. Who will be the lucky book I choose next?

Some of my friends read. As much as we do not read the same books, we do know each other's tastes. When we recommend a book to one another, the recommendation is not to be ignored.

Next Book in a Series

I wouldn't call myself a book collector but in some ways, that it exactly what I am. When I find out the book is in a series and I loved the first one, 99% you can bet that I will be getting the sequel. If I didn't love the first one, I may steer clear of the series. Unless in some exceptions like Blackhearts (that promised to have pirates, it had so much potential so got to read the sequel to see if pirates were more prominent), The Glittering Court (which its sequel follows a different character, sort of like a companion novel rather than a true sequel), or if I receive it from the publisher.

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This how-to is by no means foolproof. Sometimes you will purchase books you do not like at all. There are also ways around buying the books you may not like. You could not buy books at all, which would be very difficult for me. πŸ˜› The library is an option for some; if you have a book you aren’t sure that you’ll like or not, borrow it from your library and if you like it, buy it.

I hope some of these tips help you make your purchasing decisions easier. After all, don’t we want to love each and every book we buy?

Have you ever bought a book that, after reading, didn’t like? How do you choose which books to buy? Who are some of your autobuy authors?

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Amazing Books I Don't Talk About Enough

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It's a true assumption to say that I spend most of my day thinking about books. And when words come out of my mouth, at least 65% of the time those words will be about books. I spend loads of time discussing my current or recent reads with friends and family (and anybody else who will listen 😊). There's also books that everyone says I talk about too much which I tend to discuss in rotation between The Lord of the Rings series, The Mortal Instruments series, Six of Crows duology, A Court of Mist and Fury and any book by Barry Lyga, Stephanie Perkins and Kasie West. I'm sure there are others I talk about too but I can't remember at the moment.

Today, I want to focus on all those books that I never talk about enough. Seriously though, I went through my favorites bookshelf and couldn't believe that I never talk about these books. These novels are superb and should be read by you, you, and you. You do not want to miss these. Here's some awesome books that I don't mention as much as I should:

Going Bovine by Libba Bray: This is a fantastic book filled with twists and turns that still gets me every time I reread it. Cameron is told he is going to die but hope is not all lost when he meets a rock star angel and a talking garden gnome, who take him on the road trip of a life time.

The Naming by Alison Croggon: Croggon is the princess of epic fantasy; her writing is absolutely gorgeous and well-thought out. Maerad is a slave, living in an unforgiving settlement. When a Bard travels through, he notices Maerad has a magical gift. Stealing her away from her awful fate, the Bard and Maerad set off on a compelling adventure.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: Set in Germany during World War II, this unforgettable story will find a way to your heart. Liesel steals any book she can find. Her foster father teaches her how to read and from there, Liesel begins to share stories with those around her, inspiring others in a dreary time.

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen: The amount of drama this book has will be sure to put your stomach in knots. A large cast of characters, set in 1899 in Manhattan, take center stage--each story intertwining with the last.

Die for Me by Amy Plum: This book was action packed and one-of-a-kind. This was a refreshing and fast read that captured my mind and led me into a world full of awesome zombies that I couldn’t get enough of.

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh: Nevermore is the start of a gorgeous trilogy that will have you freaking out with its fantastical characters and a story that will scare you witless. Cheerleader, Isobel, is paired up with goth, Varen, on an unavoidable English project. Forced to work together, Isobel begins to discover some of the many secrets Varen is hiding. He lives his life half in reality and half in a dreamscape that is not as safe as he once assumed.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: I don't read a lot of books about faeries but Wicked Lovely is such a beautiful read that every fairy lover should give it a try. Aislinn, all her life has been able to see faeries. And all her life, she has been told to pretend they are invisible. However, when one starts stalking her, she isn't sure what to do. In this fun, action-packed series, Marr builds a magnificent world of fantasy.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown: This book is such an important book. When I first read it, the novel changed how I saw the world, it was a book that entirely morphed my perspective on so many things. Valerie and Nick made a list of people they hated, a list of bullies that the couple didn't like. It was a relaxing exercise to acknowledge and move past those who they felt wronged them. However, when Nick open fires in the school cafeteria, Valerie notices he is targeting each person on their list. Faced with the aftermath alone, Valerie feels responsible. Hate List is a game changing contemporary that will make you weep.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter: The Goddess Test takes Greek myths to a new level, mixes them up, and gives the readers an awesome recipe of entertainment.

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes: Can you tell I love Greek mythology? Falling Under is so underrated and such a surprise to every one who reads it. When a new student joins Theia's high school, she swears she has seem him before... in her dreams. Haden is as mysterious is he as infuriating. And even when Theia discovers who he really is, she still can't stay away.

What are some books that you haven't talked about in a while?